Interview with Composer Marcus Paus Conducted for ICONI by Edward Green


We learn in this interview with the
leading Norwegian composer
of his generation, Marcus Paus
(b. 1979), how critical he is of the “academic
tradition” which, in his view, has hurt a
good deal of contemporary music over the
last several decades: a certain snobbish
adherence to non-tonal, non-melodic
“abstract modernism.” Paus, on the contrary,
asserts the living freshness of traditional
values. His own music is grounded in
tradition, is steeped in the value of careful
craftsmanship, and yet, at the same time,
is passionate, surprising, original, deeply
lyrical, and fervently humanist in its
social and political orientation. We learn,
too, of his great esteem for the American
composer John Williams, best known for
his cinematic scores. Paus sees Williams as
a model of nobility: both musically, and as a
human being. In this interview there is also
substantial discussion of the value of the
philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded by
the great American philosopher Eli Siegel,
and his profound ideas concerning Art and
Life. During this wide-ranging conversation,
Paus speaks likewise of world music, pop
music, and his abiding interest in literature
and painting. There is also an extended
passage where he keenly and generously
comments on the composers of his own
generation, and points to several of their
most outstanding works.

Contemporary Composer